Turning Microsoft into Apple... on the way out

Earlier today Steve Ballmer announced he would be retiring as CEO of Microsoft in 12 months. The timing is perhaps among the most interesting aspects of the decision. It happened on the eve of yet another massive, company-wide re-organization, and arguably the biggest ever - Ballmer transforming Microsoft into a functional alignment. In other words, reforging it in Apple's organizational image. Guy English on Kicking Bear:

They've just completely recreated the company in a pattern that's totally alien to most organizations of their size. Indeed, the current configuration only seems to work for Apple. Which, arguably, grew into it completely organically. The structure of Apple certainly wasn't created by fiat a month prior to a CEO hitting the bricks.

English argues that, absent an announcement of a new CEO that was in on, and fully onboard with, the re-org, Balmer leaving now is troubling at best. And yet no such CEO was announced, and no internal candidates seem obvious. John Gruber of Daring Fireball:

Here's the hitch though: Ballmer has chased all potential successors out of the company — Ray Ozzie, Robbie Bach, J Allard, and most recently, Steven Sinofsky.

The challenge facing an outside successor are no less daunting. Benedict Evens:

In some ways [Ballmer] did a superb job in the last 30-odd years. But he leaves with Microsoft irrelevant in the new paradigm of the tech industry, mobile.

On the surface (no pun intended), it looks like a bigger job than Marissa Mayer took on at Yahoo! A bigger ship to turn around. And again, I'm wondering who can do it?